Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Advisory and Warning

Advisory vs Warning

Many people often hear the terms advisory, watch and warnings, while watching their favorite news programs on TV. These terms are the most commonly used words in weather reporting and forecasts. The only trouble is that most viewers don’t know the real differences among these terms. Others just accept the terminologies blindly, not even measuring the gravity of the issue on hand. Although it is easier to distinguish what the term watch means, it is much more difficult to discern a warning from an advisory.

To clearly describe the difference between a warning and an advisory, it is equally important to describe what a ‘watch’ is before anything else. Basically, when you say watch (weather watch) it means that something may or has a chance of occurring. Because of the uncertainty as to where or when a particular storm will hit, the weather watch is usually addressed to a larger geographical region and is given for longer periods of time.

On the other hand, warnings are given to a much smaller geographical location. The warning is given in a much shorter time as well since the time of storm contact is more definite and sure. Thus, advisories are placed between a watch and a warning. They tell the public that a storm has a pretty good likelihood of happening although they are given for less serious weather alerts. They are given if the weather condition may have a mild impact to the masses. There is less threat to both properties and lives.

Warnings are blasted out to the public because there may be events that can really cause damage to properties, as well as, the deaths of some or a significant number of people. Also, in a storm warning it is often perceived that the storm is really underway or will strike shortly. These announcements are issued because outages are very common and traveling is considered risky. In addition, warnings are issued by weather forecasters and meteorologists when they are almost certain that something will happen. As the term implies, warnings are addressed to the public so as to give them some caution.

No one is to blame but this is really a confusing subject, much more if one is to know the different types of specific weather warnings and advisories issued by the National Weather Services because their descriptions only differ a bit.


1. Advisories are announced in cases wherein the weather phenomenon doesn’t necessarily place properties and lives at risk if the correct precautions were followed and done. These are for less serious weather alerts.

2. Warnings are issued for more serious weather alerts. The weather or calamity is most likely to be underway.

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